LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Game Week officially began Friday as Kentucky coach Guy Morriss laid down the proverbial gauntlet during the Wildcats' annual Kickoff Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency.
"In seven days, 23 hours and about 35 minutes... we're going to be doing some plucking," Morriss said in reference to the Cats' feathery arch-rivals, the Louisville Cardinals, who visit Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 1.
"Our players are extremely excited about this game like you wouldn't believe," Morriss added. "... I think you'll really appreciate the enthusiasm and the intensity our kids will bring to the field."
Much to the delight of the large crowd on hand at the Patterson Ballroom, Morriss did not mince words when prodded to give his assessment of the Cats' chances against Louisville, which is coming off a shockingly close 45-24 victory over New Mexico State on Thursday night.
"I think I learned that Louisville is very beatable," Morriss said to a round of applause. "Our kids believed that before last night's game (in which NMSU gained more than 500 yards against a suspect UofL defense), but that probably confirmed it for them.
"I don't think that we'll see the same Louisville team that we saw last night, but I hope that they're at the highest of their game. I hope that they're jacked and ready to play so there'll be no excuses when we send them home."
During Friday afternoon's practice session, Morriss was asked about his attention-grabbing comments from earlier in the day.
"I don't know if that was bold or not," he said. "I know coach (John L.) Smith will have his guys ready. I hope they play good. That will help us find out how good we are. That's what I meant by that... I wanted to get our fans excited a little bit, but I wasn't taking shots at Louisville at all."
The Cats are coming off their second straight loss to Louisville, a 40-34 overtime setback in which former UK coach Hal Mumme angered many on both sides of the rivalry with postgame comments downplaying the significance of the outcome.
Morriss has attempted to change that perception, and says it has been reflected in the way the team has worked since the end of last season.
"We probably squeezed more juice out of them than they've ever been asked to give in their young lives," Morriss said. "I know we did.... I've been so proud of the way they've responded the last six months of their lives."
The UK coach also amused the crowd with a crack about the team's lack of defense the last four years: "We made an emphasis to try and play some defense for a change.
"...The kids love coach (John) Goodner and his staff, and they believe in them. They'd run through a brick wall for them, and I think that will be apparent on Satruday."